Originally posted by PTulini:
NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year: 49ers LB Aldon Smith
I really didn't think I would do it. I thought for sure Miller had this honor locked up. But Miller's play and production fell off a cliff after his thumb surgery, and, although Smith played far fewer snaps and is more one-dimensional than Miller, I had to give him this award.
I actually considered giving it to Texans DE J.J. Watt, as well, but, in the end, this is a passing league and the pressure Smith can put on a quarterback was just too overwhelming to ignore.
Smith has a fantastic body type for rushing the passer off the edge. He is tall with very long arms with big strides. Smith is built for speed. But he also uses those long arms extremely well to hand fight and to keep blockers away from his body. Many players with Smith's dimensions lack power, but that simply isn't the case here. He is a natural knee bender who plays low with leverage, and he can convert his fantastic initial explosion off the snap into bull-rush power. He is adept with stunting and has more than just speed and a bull rush in his repertoire.
Smith was not a full-time player as a rookie, and he still needs work on early downs against the run as well as on his coverage skills. But those things will come before long. Smith is just too good not to be on the field full time.
Wow. What a great summary of a great year for Aldon.
And its pretty clear: the writer (like the rest of us) is just now seeing what Baalke, Harbaugh, et al. saw back when they drafted Aldon at #7.
So we not only got a great player at #7, we also have evidence that the front office and coaching staff are pretty good at what they do as well. Bodes really well for the future!